Reading the recent article about how the iPad will revolutionize personal computing, I was struck by an unforeseen hazard: Imagine a world where people use iPads for all of their reading. They are no longer printing out papers, getting magazines delivered to their homes or buying books at the bookstore. They are reading everything on their iPads, carrying these devices with them into their living rooms and potentially even into their bedrooms and bathrooms. One can imagine that over time a highly used iPad will be handled extensively and become a “microbe magnet”. The shiny iPad screen will need to be scrubbed, and in the future Apple might consider making these devices out of special materials that make it hard for bacteria to adhere to them.
The notion of iPads becoming “microbe magnets” is a more general issue associated with personal digital assistants and the many other electronic devices we continually touch. Do people realize how many microbes these devices pick up? When you finish fingering your blackberry and composing a message and then hand it to a coworker to make a call and he puts it up to his face, is it obvious how many bacteria are being inhaled? Food for thought, and an aspect of design to be considered in the future.
Above is an unpublished letter in response to:
How the Tablet Will Change the World
by Steven Levy, Wired, Apr. 2010